Dutch national rail infrastructure operator takes data-driven approach


Royal HaskoningDHV and Lynxx sign four-year framework contract with ProRail to improve rail efficiency.

Royal HaskoningDHV and Lynxx have signed a long-term framework contract with Dutch national rail infrastructure operator ProRail to enable the better use of rail with data analytics.

With passenger numbers and goods volumes expected to rise by 30% and 50% respectively by 2030, the Dutch rail network is under significant pressure to expand capacity. However, network expansion alone isn’t the answer. National rail infrastructure operator ProRail needs smart, efficient ways to use and maintain the rail network.

Against the backdrop of the energy transition, Royal HaskoningDHV and its partner Lynxx are supporting ProRail to expand the network’s power supply for rail traffic through a data-driven approach.

Arjen Boersma, director of ICT at ProRail said: “The use of data analytics and combining a data-driven approach with significant sector expertise has extra added value for ProRail. That’s exactly what Royal HaskoningDHV offers and over the coming years the company will help us to improve travellers’ and shippers’ satisfaction and enhance our environment.”

ProRail is taking an increasingly data-driven approach to tackle its most pressing challenges using its proprietary Big Data Analytics Platform (BDAP) based on Microsoft Azure. But more capacity and expertise are needed to scale and deploy the proofs-of-concept and pilots its data analytics suggest. ProRail has therefore selected Royal HaskoningDHV and industry expert Lynxx for a framework agreement lasting a minimum of four years.

The only engineering firm among the four contracted operators, Royal HaskoningDHV was selected together with Lynxx for its combination of rail industry experience and data science expertise. The company has applied its digital twin technology to create a model of the Dutch rail network that maps the current rail infrastructure, stations and timetables, along with the types of rolling stock used by both ProRail and Dutch rail operators. This lets Royal HaskoningDHV run simulations and test timetable modification scenarios.

Electricity network shortages mean that train speeds are restricted across the network, a problem that’s set to get worse as the demand for energy increases. But by using data analytics, ProRail’s PowerAll project will help find smarter ways to use and manage its ageing traction power supply and simulate the impacts of infrastructure expansion and renovation. Royal HaskoningDHV’s first project with Lynxx for ProRail is an electricity analytics project called PowerAll. The project will feed into the wider smart grid discussion in the Netherlands, looking at intelligent ways to handle peak electricity demand from a diverse range of energy consumers.

Anton van der Sanden, global director mobility and infrastructure at Royal HaskoningDHV, said: “The potential of data in the rail sector could be game changing – offering smarter operations, more efficient maintenance and facilitating a smooth energy transition. We are proud to have been enlisted by ProRail to help shape their use of data analytics over the next four years.”